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Monday, July 30, 2012

Bingaman: Retirement Not Good For His Political Health, Plus: Dems Show Edge In Early NM Legislature Poll, And: A Letter From Clovis 

Sen. Bingaman
Retirement may be good for your mental health but apparently not your political health. Outgoing Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman is the latest Senate incumbent to see his favorable rating among voters take a dive after announcing his intention to retire. PPP, the Democratic polling outfit, asked New Mexicans this month how they felt about Bingaman, who was first elected in 1982 and announced his retirement late last year:

...In December, 54% approved and 32% disapproved (of Bingaman), making him one of the most popular senators in the country.  But that has dropped a net ten points in the last seven months to 48-36.  He has slipped with voters of both parties and with independents.....

It may hurt his ego, but the declining numbers are no big deal for Bingaman. He's outta here in a couple of months. Not so with freshman Dem US Senator Tom Udall. He is seeking re-election in 2014 and he has reason to be concerned. His popularity has also taken a hit in recent months, says PPP:

Udall has fallen the same amount from 51-33 to 45-37.  All of Udall’s slippage has occurred with voters of his own party, for he has actually improved a few points with each Republicans and independents.

If PPP has it right and Udall has taken a hit within his own party, that will be easier for him to correct than problems with R's or independents.

So far, no big Republican names have surfaced to run against Udall. How he polls after the November election is likely to have major influence on who gets in the contest.

Remember when New Mexico's congressional reps routinely scored approval ratings in the low 60's? Not anymore. The economic turmoil in the nation and the disrepute in which the entire Congress is held by a vast majority of Americans, have ended those polls that soar.

LEGISLATIVE OUTLOOK

Most of our Alligators and insiders see the narrowly divided state House staying under the control of the Dems after November. The consensus seems to be a pickup of a seat or two for the state's majority party. That viewpoint is bolstered the latest PPP polling:

One thing Democrats can cheer about is that they still have a lead heading into this fall’s legislative elections. 46% prefer the generic Democrat in their districts and 38% the unnamed Republican.  The GOP is a bit more unified (79-10) than their opponents (71-15), but Democrats are buttressed by a ten-point lead with independents (37-27).  As in most states, they are also posting huge leads with women (49-37, versus 42-39 with men), Hispanics (56-25, versus 35-51 with whites), and voters under the age of 30 (64-20, versus 41-47 with those over 65). 

KING AND EMAILGATE

Conflict or no conflict? One of our Alligators said here Friday that by announcing for Governor, Dem Attorney General Gary King creates a conflict of interest for investigating emailgate in the Martinez administration. That, they argued,  paves the way for a special prosecutor to be appointed to handle the case. Burt a spokesman for the attorney general sees it differently:

Your “insider” is not giving you the whole picture. The Attorney General does not have authority to assign a special prosecutor, except within very narrow exceptions; announcing he is running for governor is not among them. Simply announcing for governor in no way sets up a “genuine conflict.”  The AGO conducts very specific assessments of all cases to determine whether potential ethical conflicts exist or may come up as a case proceeds. This kind of conflict assessment is not based on political concerns, or how it might look to people who fancy themselves as experts...it is based on the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys. Most of the assumptions and statements being made by media and political rivals regarding conflict of interest in this matter are ill informed.  I suggest consulting an independent, unbiased source of legal information...maybe someone from the NM School of Law who could discuss what really constitutes a “genuine” conflict?

That doesn't sound like King is looking to hand off emailgate to a special prosecutor, as some have speculated. As for the conflict, any of our Legal Beagles have a take on this? Drop us an email.

THE BEAR MARKET

The consequence of the long drawn out jobs bleed in the ABQ metro is hitting home--in the way of home foreclosures:

Residential foreclosures are increasing in Albuquerque and New Mexico, according to the latest report from CoreLogic. The Duke City’s foreclosure rate in May was 4.02 percent, compared to 3.49 percent a year ago. For the state, the rate was 5.63 percent in May, compared to 5.40 percent in May 2011. The national foreclosure rate now stands at 3.41 percent. Earlier in the recession, the Land of Enchantment’s foreclosure rate was lower than the nation’s. The state’s anemic job growth and job losses during 2012 are likely contributors to the higher foreclosure rate. The metro area’s mortgage delinquency rate is also on the rise. For May, 6.59 percent of mortgage loans in Albuquerque were 90 days or more delinquent, compared to 6.22 percent last May....

Where is the job recruiting? The cheer leading?

KEYSTONE COPS?

That's what syndicated columnist Hal Rhodes says is going on in Santa Fe when it comes to the auditing scandal at the New Mexico Finance Authority. From Rhodes:

What makes this affair so mind-boggling is the fact that the bogus 2011 financial statement is reportedly a verbatim reissue of the 2010 report previously submitted to the state auditor several months late. There's no escaping it: Moody's understated when it cited "weak internal controls" as the reason for putting the New Mexico Finance Authority on the to-be-reviewed list. There are no controls at the Finance Authority.

A LETTER FROM CLOVIS

Former Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield writes:

Dear Joe,

As  a business owner for over 30 years in Clovis I am really frustrated  that we are having such a hard time creating or keeping jobs in New Mexico. Every day the headlines tells us of  another company leaving the state and taking jobs with them. I was Mayor of Clovis for four years and during that time we created hundreds of jobs, admittedly due in part to growth at Cannon Air Force Base. 

But our community worked extremely hard to keep the base open after it appeared on the closure list. The state should be doing the  same  diligent effort to keep our national labs jobs. Our unemployment rate in  Clovis is still under 5%. This was done by our community working together with Cannon and other economic development prospects. We provided an all out effort including incentives, trips to corporate headquarters if necessary, and working with our state and federal delegation, both Republicans and Democrats. We accomplished this by having a goal and with action we created jobs.

Instead  of the "Fifth Floor" being involved with elections (including  my own Mayoral race), it is time to revive our ailing economy and concentrate  on job creation. As Mayor we worked both sides of the  aisle—which by the way works. We created jobs and got the Ute Water Project--a large rural water project for the Eastside of the state authorized and appropriations started. We also initiated and implemented (with no tax  increase I might add) a large parks plan, replaced/repaired streets, renovated an historic hotel in the downtown  area, and assisted Cannon Air Force Base’s transition from Fighter Wing to Special Operations Wing. Clovis is a great example of how it can be done!

So, Governor Martinez. As a taxpayer,  business owner, and former Mayor I ask you to please start governing our state—work on job creation. There are many people including myself who have experience in creating jobs that will help you in any way to bring jobs to our great state and get our  economy moving again.

Brumfeld was defeated for re-election earlier this year, with some observers saying her efforts to publicly fund renovation of a downtown historic hotel playing a role.

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